Music Reviews



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Artist: LSD March (@)
Title: Uretakumo Nakunarutorika
Format: CD
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
Rated: *****
LSD March is one of those bands that are difficult to describe. Here’s how the press sheet that came with the disc describes them: "These ever indefinable Japanese psych monsters have coughed up a syrup-soaked album of broken tribal psychedelia. Their distended view of plunderphonic percussion gurgles like a drum n’ base-jump into a vat of psilocybin wine. And then things get weird." I can go with this, but an easier way to describe it is that this is essentially an experimental jam session. The first track, "Kumoitachikumo" starts to grow on you after a bit with repetitive chanting and percussion. "Kumoitachikumo Version 2.0" ends the disc with a reprise of the opening track, with a nice electronic tribal feel that ends by cutting out at random times. Most of these tracks feature what sounds like bongos and sparse guitars with other noises and sound source added in as needed. For example, "Uzunisase" and "Hotumori" both have a nice grove to them, with "Hotumori" consisting of bongo improvisation and a standard 4/4 beat on a drum kit. "Ubena" sounds like it features an abused guitar that is having its strings stretched beyond its comfort level. Some of it gets to be a bit boring though. For example, "Tawayagana" and "Warehavaenu" are both simply someone playing a drum set, but not in a terribly interesting way. Buddy Rich could make just a snare drum sound compelling for 10 minutes. At 1.39 and 1.19 respectively, I started wondering when it would change because it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Overall, I get the feeling that this album as a whole would be much more interesting in a live setting. The only place I would take issue with the promotion of this album is the assertion that this would appeal to fans of Pink Floyd – not really, in my opinion. I just can’t see this getting much airplay on a station that would play Pink Floyd. Samples are available on Beta-lactam Ring Records’ website. The first edition of 500 copies comes in a full color custom made book bound sleeve and insert. This disc weighs in at around 48 minutes.
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Artist: Jalan Jalan (@)
Title: Traditional Music Recordings (collected by Jerry Lloyd)
Format: CD
Label: Urck Records (@)
Rated: *****
I love world music and records that bring us sounds of distant cultures and far away places (something Urck specializes in). This is one such record, and with 34 tracks featuring field recordings from 9 countries, it does a great job at portraying the sounds of Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It took Jerry Lloyd 10 years of travels through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma, India, Morocco, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sumatra and Bali to capture this 79 minute long audio document. It's like a sonic travelogue with liner notes that put things into perspective and give you some background information. Unfortunately the audio quality is pretty poor (I read that some of it was recorded on a portable cassette recorder) and the mastering (or lack thereof) and editing is not top notch either, which is kind of a pity. Nevertheless the cultural importance of such a release is prominent and offers a very interesting and enthusiastic look at the differences in the traditional music of all of the portrayed peoples.
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Artist: Ascanio Borga (@)
Title: Xenomorphic
Format: CD
Label: Afe Records (@)
Rated: *****
I had not heard of Ascanio Borga before receiving this disc, but evidently he is one of a sizable group of Italian experimental musicians. According to Afe’s website, "Xenomorphic, Ascanio's latest offering on Afe, literally evokes something with a strange form,’ something unfamiliar that appears alien to us, defying our logic comprehension, and therefore generating tension, disquietude and even anguish in us, but it represents something terribly vital and dynamic at the same time, something whose possibilities are still unknown." The opening track, "Xenomorphic," is almost 18 minutes long and consists of three movements, which are not delineated. The first section is an odd mix of guitar solo, noises, and atmosphere. Imagine if Yngwie Malmsteen (in a toned down way, of course) collaborated with Legion. However, it then starts to get a bit repetitive. Granted, Borga brings in elements here and there to vary the soundscape, but it just isn’t enough. It isn’t until about 15 minutes in that it begins to be interesting again, but by then it had collapsed under its own weight. "Equilibrium" is much more engaging making use of varying dynamics and sparse use of elements such as wind chimes to draw the listener in. This is more atmosphere than anything else, but it works. This then transforms into a bit more involved track, with sawtooth wave synth washes and what sounds like a talking drum that slowly evolves. "Apnea (The Hollow Mind)" is the longest track on the album at 29.48. I have to admit that once the guitar comes in at about 24 minutes, it kind of wrecks the nice hypnotic feel it had going for much of the track. The guitar solo thing just doesn’t work for me. For me, the standout track is "Raw Ground," which is a nice track of noisy drone. Here the guitar works because it is heavily processed and just blends into the mix rather than sticking out. This is synergy. Overall, I have to call this one a mixed bag. When it is good, it’s good, but at other times it just doesn’t work. This disc weighs in at 71.41 and it’s limited to 150 copies in a nice oversize sleeve.
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Artist: Rapoon (@)
Title: Dark Rivers
Format: CD
Label: Lens Records (@)
Rated: *****
Maybe Lens Records is the new releasing arm for former members of Zoviet France, because the last thing I reviews from them was Beehatch, which features Mark Spybey. If so, this would be a wise move. Few have heldand rightfully sothe kind of mystique that ZF continues to hold in the experimental scene. But Robin Storey is an artist who has held his own. I was quite excited to see this disc in the package of materials for review, having enjoyed Rapoon’s work for the last 10 years. Here is an excerpt from the press material that came with the disc: "The conflict of the ancient superstitions and the cold war paranoia is essentially what this is about. The older superstitions swallowing whole the newer age which came and went on the same dark, brooding hills. I was lucky enough to be born and grow up here and the darkness of the place is embedded deeply inside me." This disc is a departure from some of the tribal rhythms and soothing drones for which Rapoon has become known. In some ways, it is much more experimental than the other works that I have heard, and this is likely a result of the subject matter at hand. For example, "Heavy Water" combines drones and spastic noise and music bursts that gives a sense of foreboding. Yet there are soothing elements on this disc; at 13.20, "This Side of Zero" is the longest track on the album, laying down a pleasant dronefest that seems to function as a kind of intermission. Others, such as "Black Horizon," weave these two elements together, providing a dark soundscape with buzzing, repetitive synth pulses. Yet, what Rapoon album would be complete without rhythm? This is also present and accounted for on tracks such as "Blue Streak Blues" and "The Messiah of Science." If you are looking for calm ethno-ambient music, you may be disappointed. However, if you enjoyed some of Rapoon’s (and Zoviet France’s) more experimental works, this is an excellent addition to an already illustrious catalogue. This disc weighs in at about 67 minutes.
Artist: Edward Ka-Spel (@)
Title: Dream Logik X
Format: CD EP
Label: Beta-lactam Ring Records (@)
This disc comes as a bonus for those who purchase the 4XLP Dream Logik Parts 1-3 from Terminal Kaleidoscope or Beta-lactam Ring Records. I do not have the box set to review, so I have little to say about that. Nor have I heard the other Dream Logik releases. As for this disc, these may very well be the kinds of dreams that we have and wish we did not. The disc consists of three untitled tracks. Track one is the shortest of the three at 2.08 and seems to function mainly as an instrumental introduction to what will follow. Labored breathing, foreboding atmosphere, and distorted symphonic march music give the listener a sense of what will come. This is not easy listening. Track two combines swirling ambience and odd spoken word about licking the floor until his tongue is bleeding that draws the listener in quite effectively. The Prophet Ka-Spel certainly has a gift for weaving interestingif sometimes disturbingstories together. For me, this is the standout track on the disc. Track three is the longest track at 12.18 and sounds like a person running through tall grass, with noises and synth washes that does more to create an atmosphere than to tell a story. For those more familiar with Ka-Spel’s work with Legendary Pink Dots, this is more along the lines of what you would find on one of the Chemical Playschool albums – more experimental and a bit noisier. In short, if this is a taste of what one would find on the 4 LP box set, it would be an excellent acquisition. The disc weighs in at around 22 minutes.
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